Spring 2014 Wednesdays 8:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Center for Documentary Studies, CDS Bridges 113

Timothy Lenoir
Kimberly J. Jenkins Chair for
New Technologies in Society
lenoir A-T duke D-O-T edu
Smith Warehouse Bay 11 Rm. A231
919-668-1952 (office)
Office hours: TBD
Course email list: TBD

Tom Rankin
Director, MFAEDA Program
tom D-O-T rankin A-T duke D-O-T edu
919-660-3613 (office)
Office hours: By appointment

Patrick Herron
Senior Analyst
Jenkins Collaboratory
patrick D-O-T h A-T duke D-O-T edu
Smith Warehouse Bay 11 Room A-241
919-668-0276 (office)
Office hours: By appointment


Course Work

General Student Responsibilities
Your responsibility in the class is simple: do all the reading when assigned, attend all classes, ‘document’ your thoughts and engagement with the material (details on that below and to be discussed), and do a final project. We will look at and listen to a wide range of work in class and there is ABSOLUTELY no way to recreate exactly what goes on in class for someone who doesn’t attend.

Weekly Reading and Quarterly Blog Posts
Students are expected to read and be prepared to discuss the reading and media assignments for each week's class. We also require that you use blogging tools over this semester as a personal sounding board for elaborating, deepening and further articulating your conceptual framework as an artist. It is hoped that you use the opportunity when reading and writing in this course to describe your current picture of yourself as an artist and how you imagine developing your work over the course of the next several months. Your written work in this class can be instrumental to your development of a thesis at the end of your two-year program of study.

At the beginning of the semester we ask you to create a new blog on whatever public forum you choose (e.g., WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger) dedicated to your work in the course. Each student is expected to write at four specified times during the semester that engages some substantive theme in the materials from the preceding weeks in terms of your own evolving work as an artist. We would like you to use the readings each week to incrementally and materially—textually—develop a vision of your work that engages with the artistic movements and theory we will be examining that you can share with others. In each of these quarterly blog posts we encourage you to write as if you are preparing an artist's statement of purpose. While the notion of an "artist's statement" is fraught with complications both obvious and subtle, it is for work that pushes old boundaries or creates new ones that an artist statement can be an effective tool for communicating one's artistic vision to others. More importantly, artist statements routinely open doors to new friendships, artistic collaborations, shows, grants, and residencies. Each student is also invited to comment on blog posts of fellow students; it is assumed that all comments are civil, respectful, and constructive.

Your blog post need not be lengthy (5-10 paragraphs). In order to submit your quarterly blog posts, please email the class list with the URL to your specific blog post when it is complete.

We want each student to collaborate with another student on one presentation. The presentation is to be organized around a specific week's materials. Each student is required to team up with a partner on a week's presentation, one partner being responsible for the media content of the presentation, the other partner responsible primarily for the narrative. The roles of media coordinator and narrative coordinator can overlap or be shared.

The content of the presentations will vary, of course, depending on the readings and media under discussion for that session, and we want to allow you maximal freedom in presenting themes that you want to address. We expect, however, that the presentations will address themes from our assignments related to issues of successful elements of avant-garde art and reasons for either its influence at the time of its proliferation or its enduring influence. We would also like you to reflect on issues that are perennial topics of discussion related to avant-garde art, such as the role of conceptualization, art's responsibility vis-à-vis society, and issues of spirit, inspiration and technology.

Final Project
Each student must submit a final project for the course. You should choose an experimental or documentary artist, someone whose work interests you, someone you’d like to explore and make work about, and complete a project about them. You make the choice: a known artist, a vernacular documentarian; someone you’ve met more casually out in the world or some artist you’ve learned about through more formal study. The possibilities are limitless. We are open to your final project taking about any form. You can write a traditional research paper, make a film or some other visual or aural piece, or make a web-based presentation. Just as the subject of your project is your choice, so is the final form. What you must do, however, is dig deeply and find a way to express what you’ve discovered and want to say in the most appropriate medium for both you and the content of your project. If you write a traditional paper it should be 15-20 pages double-spaced, with conventional citation of sources. Whatever you choose, we encourage you to use this as an opportunity to develop some component of the project or portfolio you are developing in connection with your overall MFA work. We will talk about this more in class, with opportunities to talk about your final project with us.

Grades for the class will be based on the following scale:

Blog: 30%

Presentation: 30%

Final Project: 40%